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Ph.D. in Sociology

‘Prepare for a career in academia, research, or industry with one or more of our department’s substantive strengths.

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Program Overview

For students who wish to become critical analysts of social problems, NC State’s graduate program in sociology offers excellent training for academic, research and applied careers.

The 72-credit hour doctoral program is an intellectually stimulating and academically rigorous, yet supportive, environment.

Doctoral students have the opportunity to:

  • Pursue a wide range of research topics and interests.
  • Receive top-notch methodological training.
  • Gain valuable teaching skills and experience.
  • Collaborate on scholarly and applied research with our outstanding faculty and fellow graduate students.

Admitted Ph.D. students also benefit from a competitive award package that includes a 9-month stipend, health insurance, tuition remission, office space, and a travel funding allotment. Program alumni go on to succeed in academic and applied careers.

Curriculum and Courses

Our core curriculum includes courses in sociological theory and research methods (with various quantitative and qualitative options).

Substantive coursework includes classes pertinent to students’ research interests. Some classes we offer regularly include:

  • SOC 722: Social Control
  • SOC 721: Theories of Deviant Behavior
  • SOC 798: Race and Ethnic Inequality
  • SOC 752: Work and Industry
  • SOC 736: Social Stratification
  • SOC 762: Sociology of Food Systems

Program Milestones

On the way to earning the Ph.D., students entering without a master’s degree complete a thesis to obtain their master of science degrees. They also complete a written comprehensive exam in their selected field to demonstrate mastery of subject material and develop a proposal for their dissertation research in consultation with faculty advisors. Finally, students defend their dissertation research – an independent and original contribution to sociological knowledge – to complete the degree.

Students entering with a master’s degree can complete the requirements in four years. Students entering without a master’s degree may finish in five years.

How to Apply

Prospective students apply through the NC State Graduate School.

Completed applications include transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement and a writing sample. Accepted prospective students will be invited to visit the campus and meet with faculty in the spring (date TBD).

Application Deadline

The deadline for fall admissions is Jan. 1, with all supporting material so that the review committee can begin the review process in mid-January. We will only accept materials submitted electronically.

Our program accepts full- and part-time students to begin their studies during the fall semester. We do not accept applications for spring admissions. Also, please note that we no longer accept students for sociolinguistics.

A completed application includes transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a writing sample. The Admissions Committee is unable to consider incomplete applications. GRE scores are not required but you may submit them if you would like.

  • Transcripts: You will need to upload unofficial transcripts of all your academic course work since high school, including each higher education institution you have attended. You only need to send official transcripts to the Graduate School if you are admitted.
  • Letters of Recommendation: We require three letters of recommendation. The online process includes a form for your references to use. This form only has a small space for comments. Please ask your references to add a letter in which they provide more detail. Specifics about their experience with you are particularly informative. If you are not currently in school, please take care in selecting people to write these letters, as we need to know how you are likely to perform in an academic setting.
  • Personal Statement: This is usually a relatively brief statement of about two pages. We are especially interested to know how graduate training in sociology fits into your professional and intellectual goals and plans. Please indicate in your statement which of our program specializations you are most interested in and why. If you have a preference for working with specific professors, that would be helpful to include as well. 
  • Writing Sample: We pay very careful attention to the example of your writing that you submit. We look for organization, use of evidence, logic of argument, and quality of analysis. Typical submissions include course papers and senior thesis chapters. We strongly prefer writing samples of approximately 15-25 pages in length. If you would like us to read part of a large work, you could attach an explanation of how the part relates to the whole. 
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE): The GRE is optional for admission. Students do not have to submit GRE scores, and your application will not be penalized if you do not submit GRE scores. If you would like to submit GRE scores, the university’s code is 5496.

The Graduate School requires a payment of a $75 application fee ($85 USD for International applicants). Application fee payments are non-refundable.

To apply, you may complete an online application for admission to the NC State Graduate School. If you complete the form electronically, however, you must still mail in your check for the application fee (currently $85 in U.S. currency drawn from a U.S. bank or from an international bank with a U.S. affiliate) and other parts of the application, noted below.

  • Transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate studies.
  • TOEFL scores for applicants who are not native English speakers. You can view our English Proficiency Requirements for more information. (Please note: Teaching Assistants may require additional English Speaking screening)
  • Three letters of recommendation (we will be especially interested in reading the recommendation of a social scientist who can assess your promise as a social scientist).
  • A sample of your writing, such as an academic paper you have written.
  • A personal statement of the relationship of graduate training in sociology in our department for your long term interests, including your professional career intentions. 
  • The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores for the general tests is optional for admission.

After admission, official transcripts should be sent to:

The Graduate School
North Carolina State University
1020 Main Campus Drive,
Room 2300A
Campus Box 7102
Raleigh, NC 27695-7102

Sociology and Anthropology Graduate Student Association

A student-centered organization promoting academic and professional success.

Financial Assistance

We offer teaching and other assistantships on a competitive basis through NC State’s Graduate Student Support Plan (GSSP). Assistantships provide tuition coverage for fall and spring semesters, health insurance for the year and a biweekly stipend from August to May.

We also advocate for students by applying to special funds and scholarships — and helping strengthen student applications for aid.

Our support package for funded students is very competitive with those offered by other doctoral programs. Assuming normal progress to degree, the packages are good for five years for students entering with a bachelor’s degree (four years for students entering with a master’s degree in sociology).  The support package includes:

  • Graduate assistantships with a $20,000 9-month stipend. These assistantships have a 20 hour/week work obligation.  During typical assistantship appointments, students assist faculty with their courses and research. Students entering the program with a master’s degree are eligible to teach their own courses after one full year in the program. All other students may teach on their own after two years. 
  • Full tuition remission for the first academic year (both in-state and out-of-state).  Students are responsible for their own fees.
  • Health insurance.
  • Office space in the 1911 Building.  Every funded student has his/her own desk and computer.
  • Full access to departmental and college computer networks, including most popular analytical packages (Stata, R, SAS, SPSS, etc.)
  • Support for travel to present at professional conferences